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Woodworking & Furniturecraft

Cedar Bent-Wood Boxes

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Course Overview

In this class students will build a bent wood box of a design inspired by Yupik people of the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska, but also borrowing from Estonian and Scandinavian traditions. The Y-K Delta is basically treeless and the beautiful traditional boxes built by the Yupik people were constructed from driftwood supplied by the rivers and the sea. We will be taking a much easier route and will use white cedar harvested from the forests of Minnesota. These are sturdy, functional, and beautiful containers that will serve many purposes for years to come and will introduce students to a variety of traditional woodworking and carving skills and techniques. 

We will steam bend the sides into a pleasing shape and stitch the ends together with spruce root. The bottoms will be hollowed on the inside and rabbited to fit the sides, leaving a lip around the base and then attached with wooden nails. The tops will be similarly rabbited and hollowed as well as contoured on the outside surface. We will create handles from that wonderfully curvy wood that wraps itself around loose knots (those that produce knot holes). The handles will be sewn on with spruce root.

In this class students will be exposed to bending wood, shaping wood with gouges or crooked knives, creating rabbits with handsaws and chisels, some straight knife carving; peeling, splitting and dimensioning spruce root and some designs and techniques for stitching. Most of these procedures require hand and even arm strength. This class welcomes beginning and advanced students, and modifications can be made for an individual’s skill and pace.

Required Tools

  • All required tools will be provided.

Optional Tools

  • Sloyd knife (like a Mora 106)
  • Carving gouge (anything close to 5 sweep/ 25mm would work)


Mon, Apr 17th, 2023  –  Thu, Apr 20th, 2023

Course Details

Hours: 9am-5pm each day
Tuition: $400.00
Materials fee: $80.00

Meet the Instructor

North House Folk School photo of instructor, John Manthei
John Manthei
Fairbanks, AK

Meet the Instructor

North House Folk School photo of instructor, Wesley Hathaway
Wesley Hathaway

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Cedar Bent-Wood Boxes